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International Community urged to join forces and rebuild Ukraine

Smoke rises from a building in Bakhmut, the site of the heaviest battles with the Russian troops in the Donetsk region, Ukraine, Wednesday, April 26, 2023
Smoke rises from a building in Bakhmut, the site of the heaviest battles with the Russian troops in the Donetsk region, Ukraine, Wednesday, April 26, 2023 Copyright Libkos/AP
Copyright Libkos/AP
By Teresa Bizarro
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With each passing day, the bill for Russia's invasion of Ukraine rises. The estimated value has already exceeded the €400 billion mark – and it will not stop there.

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The reconstruction of Ukraine will be a task for more than one generation. Emergency intervention began even in the first few months of the war, but the job of rebuilding the country will be as big a battle as the one fought on the frontline.

The cost estimate collectively totted up by Kyiv, the UN, the World Bank and the European Union, and released a month ago has already been exceeded.

At the time, the bill stood at €383 billion, according to an analysis that looked at the impact of a year of war in twenty different sectors, and quantified both the physical damage to infrastructure and buildings, and the effect on people's lives.

"Conflict and war are development in reverse."

With the fighting of the last few weeks, the figure is already closer to half a trillion euros.

"The numbers are very big. We're already talking about €400 billion in reconstruction costs. And actually, I feel that the costs will be even bigger because it's not just a reconstruction of what was there before. But it's a small number compared to what international institutions can mobilise. We have to remember that rich countries found more than $20 trillion in response to the pandemic of COVID-19," says Ian Goldin, who was part of the panel of experts heard at the Conference on the Reconstruction of Ukraine, promoted by the G7 and the European Union, in Berlin.

Speaking to Euronews, Goldin stressed that the international community could respond more quickly.

"Conflict and war are development in reverse. They destroy everything. They destroy institutions, they destroy people's lives and their mental state and, of course, their physical state. All that will take time to be rebuilt. But the most important thing is that it has to be done by Ukrainians. I think that it is happening in a way that could be faster, with more international support. But it is happening," says the professor of Globalisation and Development at Oxford University.

Goldin reckons that Kyiv's responsiveness and reconstruction took Moscow by surprise. "The Russians thought they had destroyed the power system, but it has been rebuilt and is working quite effectively in Ukraine. This is a good example. Many bridges were destroyed that have now been rebuilt and people can cross them again. And of course, the military need to cross them," he says.

International conferences bind governments

This week, Italy organised a bilateral conference in support of Ukraine's reconstruction. France did the same in December and the next international donors' meeting is scheduled for London.

Goldin considers these conferences to be "very important signalling devices," demonstrating support for Ukraine. Especially in the case of Italy.

"It's important in Italy, because there have been some questions about the commitment of the Italian government to reconstruction. So it's very important, I think, as a signalling device. It's a way of grabbing the government, because when it commits and says publicly that it's going to do what's necessary, of course, the public expects it to do it," says the Oxford professor adding that the conferences "are also important to give Ukrainians moral and political support, knowing that there is terrible devastation happening every day."

"The reconstruction effort is clearly too big for Ukrainians to do it alone. So international support will be essential. European support will be essential, and that support depends on support from key European countries," says Ian Goldin.

Governments and international institutions are called to support the war effort, but also the economic and social stabilisation of the country and rehabilitation for the future.

Goldin concluded: "Ukraine needs to be very different in the future. It will have to prepare for integration into the European Union. It is going to move from a very grey and polluted economy to a greener and more natural economy and a much more digital economy. So a lot of new investments are needed."

Additional sources • Mario Bowden

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